Director Nitesh Tiwari seems to have got himself a new fan base in former IIT students after his new film Chhichhore brought in good reviews.
“I’m getting messages and calls about former IIT-ians booking tickets to see the film over the weekend. That is a very comforting feeling. When one writes a film, one never knows which way it will go. If it eventually gets its target audience, it’s a job well done,” the soft-spoken director tells Subhash K Jha.
Nitesh’s previous film Dangal was a blockbuster in 2016, and he’s aware that he did not have an Aamir Khan to bring in the audiences this time.
The casting, he insists, is the key to his cinema.
“From the biggest (in terms of footage) to the smallest roles, I have to get the actor that fits the character,” he says. “Since I write my own films, I know the face and personality I’m looking for. Even for a walk-on part, I only cast the actor I am sure of.”
Unlike Dangal, the world of Chhichhore is very familiar to Nitesh.
“All these characters in Chhichhore are known to me," he says. "They are friends I have been close to. I am sure they will recognise themselves in the film. Preparing for Dangal was more difficult as I was unfamiliar with wrestling and the world of wrestlers. But shooting for Chhichhore was far more difficult because of the logistics.”
There are more characters in Chhichhore than feasible for recall-value. Yet, everyone leaves a lasting impact.
"For me, writing the film is the major part of the work. Once I have the characters and the plot on paper, all I need to do is to put the vision on film. I wrote every character in Chhichhore with equal care. There is no hero in this film. They are all heroes," he says.
Will he ever consider directing a film not written by him?
"I am open to that idea but it would be an added challenge, as it would mean interpreting someone else’s vision," he replies.
Did Nitesh miss Aamir Khan in Chhichhore?
The director laughs and says, "Like I told you, the cast is dictated by the script. Just as I could not imagine Dangal without Aamir, I can’t see Chhichhore without the actors in it. And when you say they are memorable, I feel I made the right choices. No matter what the box office outcome is, I am proud of both Dangal and Chhichhore.”